Sunday, January 22, 2012


Despite all the technical difficulties I experienced today trying to get this thing edited, I am pretty happy to share with you what a typical Saturday is like for me.  I leave the house as early as possible for a little alone time away from the family and head into the city to shop for supplies.  It's been over a year now since I've consciously attempted to drastically reduce the amount of plastic pollution our family generates.  It is amazing how much plastic still manages to find it's way into our house even when we try to avoid it like the plague.  Along the way I've refined my plastic avoidance skills and thought I'd share some of them with you via this Vlog.  I had to edit away alot of footage in order to fit it into the 10 minutes I was allotted by You Tube so I am going to do my best to fill you in on some more details after the video.  

Plastic:  for more information about why it is important to avoid plastic go here and here
Bags and Containers: The directions for making your own cotton vegetable bags can be found here
- the same site also has directions for making the simple fabric grocery bags that I show you in the video.  The only thing I did differently is sew down the little corner flaps.
- when using glass or stainless steel containers for buying meats, fish and cheeses, simply give the container to the salesperson and they can place it on the scale and tare the weight before adding your purchases to the container

Maple Syrup:  We tend to go through a lot of maple syrup and I really wish I could buy it in large quantities in a can like they used to sell it in the good old days.  But it appears that most producers are into using the plastic jugs.  So, until I find a source for that, I buy the can.  Note: many maple syrup bottles are glass and even come with metal caps...

Cart:  When shopping at Farmer's Markets I highly recommend a shopping cart that folds up because you will be more inclined to buy a larger percentage of your groceries there if you know you don't have to struggle carrying heavy bags around.  Same goes for a cooler - you can relax knowing your precious market goods will be safe and sound in their icy home.

Meat:  So after having done a little more research on butcher paper I just discovered that the pink butcher paper is often lined with polyethyene, which is PET (#1) plastic.  So, your best bet is to head over to an ethical butcher shop and bring your own containers and/or unlined butcher paper/waxed paper for packaging your meat

Vegetables:  The Farmer's Market is your best bet for finding seasonal, local, unpackaged vegetables.  Caution though, there is still a lot of over packaging and plastic at the market!

Feta Cheese:  I choose the Bulgarian variety because I like it that that Europe generally has higher standards when it comes to food production (like they oppose the use of GMO's) and also because it comes to the store in a can instead of a plastic bucket like the other bulk cheeses.  The Mid-East Food Centre is located on Agricola Street in Halifax's North End.  They also have an olive bar and bulk food bins.

Planet Organic:  also sells bulk medicinal and culinary herbs that can be put into paper bags.

Bulk:  I tend to buy flours, grains etc from organic mills in bulk because they come in paper bags.  I also buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk even though they come in large plastic bags because sometimes there is no way around it.  The way I see it, bulk stores generally fill their bins from plastic packaged goods anyway.

Friday, January 20, 2012

CABBAGE: The New Lettuce

It's January.  It's cold out, and we are in the midst of a huge snowstorm.  It's also Friday, the end of the week.  The fridge is starting to look very empty on the eve of market day.  But we have cabbage.  It's pretty hard not to have cabbage because it lasts - ALL winter.  Just as we eat lettuce, spinach and arugula like it is going out of style in the summer, in winter, we eat cabbage.  So much cabbage in fact, that I am now calling it the new lettuce.  New?  Well, for those of us learning how to truly eat locally, learning to eat and love cabbage is a new concept.  I am especially appreciating the versatility and freshness of Nappa Cabbage which so far is always available at the market on Saturdays, and I am crossing my fingers it keeps on coming.  This cabbage has delicate leaves (unlike the ordinary red and green cabbages) which gives it more of a lettuce character.  The fun part too is that you can treat it like a lettuce or a cabbage, depending on your mood.  Tonight it took on more of a cabbage personality when I dressed it in an Asian Peanut Dressing, served alongside Wild Salmon Fish Cakes.  Recipes like this make me feel like I can survive this winter without breaking down and buying California greens.
NAPPA CABBAGE SALAD with Asian Peanut Dressing

Feel free to substitute red or green cabbage if you don't have any Nappa around.  

4 cups shredded organic Nappa cabbage
1 organic carrot, shredded
1/8 cup organic tamari
1 1/2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
1/8 cup organic peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1 Tbsp local maple syrup

Method:  Combine the cabbage and carrot in a salad bowl.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients and then toss with the cabbage.  (If using red or green cabbage, be sure to let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving).

Monday, January 9, 2012


     It all started when I was reading a Beatrix Potter book out loud to my son .  I wanted to make marmalade.  Now, the crazy thing is that I don't even eat marmalade.  But sometimes I get this nostalgic inspiration that I just can't shake and it makes me want to do crazy things.  This was one of those times where I longed for the times when people made homemade biscuits spread with golden marmalde, spun wool and milked cows.  
So, I got busy.  Very, very busy because making marmalade is a big job.  
     A big job that was made even bigger because I overestimated the number of oranges I would need to make a batch, and ended up making 4 times the amount just to use up the excess.  
     Good thing we just bought a HUGE 40 litre stainless steel pot at Christmas time for brining our turkeys in.  This pot is so big I needed two stove burners to heat the thing.  At first I thought maybe the pot was too big, but then I realized that the large surface area was actually a good thing because it increased the evaporation area which ensured that the marmalade didn't take forever to reduce.  The pot will really come in handy next summer when I preserve tomatoes, and Scott is excited to use it when he is slaughtering chickens.  To each their own.....
     Now marmalade is traditionally made with Seville orange which apparently contain more pectin and are bitter which makes a nice tasting spread.  I didn't realize this when I was planning this mad adventure and just used organic navel oranges from the supermarket.  If I ever find organic Seville oranges, I might try them out, but until then, navel will do.  I am only going to list the method for making a small batch because odds are you don't need 19 jars of marmalade.

2 pounds organic oranges
1 organic lemon
7 cups organic sugar
2 litres of water

Method:  Wash the fruit.  Remove the stem and flower ends of the oranges and lemons.  Cut the fruit in half and squeeze the juices into a sieve, saving the pulp and seeds.  Pour the juice into a large pot.  Scrape and pull out the membranes and remaining pulp from the peels with a small spoon, adding them to the reserved pulp and seeds.   Place the pulp mixture into a large piece of cheesecloth and tie with cooking twine.  Put it into the pot containing the juice.
     Halve the oranges and lemon peels and then cut in half again.  Slice the peels into paper-thin strips and adding them into the pan as well.  Stir in the water and bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring often and pressing the bag to release the pectin for about 2 1/2 hours.  Place a small plate in the freezer.  Remove the bag and allow to cool.  Squeeze the pectin juice out of the bag.  At this point the mixture should measure 7 cups.  Add more water or reduce as necessary to achieve this amount.
     Add the sugar to the pan and bring to a hard boil, stirring.  Boil until the foam clears and it reaches the gelling stage, about 12-15 minutes.  Pour a small amount of the recipe on a cold plate and place it in the freezer for a few minutes.  The product is gelled if it does not run together when separated with a spoon.  (While doing this test remove the mixture from the heat to prevent overcooking.)
     Using a canning funnel, fill hot sterilized canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace.  Cover with a prepared lid, screw on band and boil in water canner for 10 minutes.

In case you do have an excess of marmalade like I now do, here are some unusual uses for this tasty condiment.


3/4 cup organic white miso
1/2 cup organic freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup organic marmalade
sea salt and pepper

Method:  Whisk all ingredients together and use as a marinade for duck, pork, seafood, chicken or fish.

* or you can make this cake from Orangette
* or use it to glaze carrots
* in salad dressings
* in cake frostings
* on a roast chicken sandwich
* mix it with garlic, tamari and ginger for another marinade

Monday, January 2, 2012


We rocked it New Year' rocked it that is, or rather hot stoned.  My $3.99 Value Village purchase of a Hot Stone Grill a few year's ago finally got a workout.  Luckily all the parts were in the box because I didn't actually check it until the morning of the dinner party (uh oh!).  
I had no idea how the thing worked because I'd never seen one in action, but luckily it was pretty straight forward and actually not all that different from a fondue really.  You see you have a stone platter with handles that gets placed into a cold oven and then warmed up to 400* for half an hour.  
The three little fondue style fuel pots then get lit, which gives you just enough time to grill enough food to feed 4 adults.  Now, I'm not so sure it was the greatest idea to host this kind of dinner party with two four year olds and two almost one year olds in attendance, but hey, we survived despite the chaos of it all. 
 Even though my whole house was filled with smoke from grilling indoors, I think I'm addicted to the hot stone grill!

*The 2012 New Year's Hot Stone Grill Menu*

Mini  Greek Lamb Patties
Scott's Wild Turkey - Tandoori Style
Miso Marinated Scallops
Balsamic Marinated Portobello Mushrooms
Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
Asian Style Noodles and Salad
Honey Vanilla Ice Cream and Waffles with Warm Chocolate Sauce (that seized)


1 pound ground grass fed lamb
1 small organic onion, grated
1 clove organic garlic, minced
1/4 cup organic whole wheat bread crumbs
1 organic egg
1 tsp dried organic mint
sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:  Combine all ingredients and let sit for 20 minutes, then form them into small, flat patties.


1 pound wild scallops, tough bit removed
2 Tbsp organic white miso
1 Tbsp organic sugar
2 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp organic sesame oil

Method:  Combine all the miso, sugar, mirin and oil in a bowl and whisk.  Add the scallops and allow to marinate for a few hours.  Remove from marinade and grill.


1 1/2 pounds organic turkey breast, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup organic yogurt
1 Tbsp organic lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp organic minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp organic peeled and minced ginger
1/2 Tbsp organic ground cumin
1/2 tsp organic ground coriander
1/8 tsp organic ground cardamom
1/8 tsp organic ground cloves
1/8 tsp organic ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste

Method:  Marinate the turkey in a bowl with all of the above ingredients except salt, which you add just before cooking.